Building Your Design Muscles
Lately, I have had to exercise my business muscles a bit more than stretching my design muscles but this week I got to do some design work and help someone very special to me, my sister. I have to tell you it felt really good to get back to doing what I love to do, even if it was in a small way.
You see, I am a firm believer in “make progress every day”. I used to tell my teenagers this regularly and I felt like it was going in one ear and out the other without stopping in the middle at all. So, when I get an opportunity to really make a difference to someone in some way, I always feel like that’s a win.
This week has been fun for me and has reawakened my love for décor fabric. My sister and I spent days online together shopping for fabric for a new sofa and chairs for her new house. That may seem like a snoozefest to some but for us, we were in our element and having a good time putting different combinations together and figuring out all the possibilities. We also had fun making fun of each other’s choices. We can do that, we’re sisters.
When she came to me and asked if I could help her she had already picked out a sofa and a pair of chairs. In my designer way of thinking I wanted to offer her the opportunity to buy something really special at a discounted price, so we quickly found an upgrade that she liked and start looking for fabric for a custom look. We went through a lot of different looks and stages of excitement and frustration as we found something we liked and then realized it doesn’t meet this or that criteria. In the end, she ended up with the sofa she started out with but with a better fabric choice.
Okay, so what. What’s the lesson? You might ask.
It is this, the process of designing is a process. There are steps that if taken, can lead you to the right solution faster, if not taken, it will result in a product you may not be ultimately happy with.
When putting together a design, it is not enough that you like it. You may love it. But if it doesn’t meet your criteria, it is ultimately a wrong choice. Taking the steps to clearly define your criteria means you will make better choices when deciding what to buy and why. “Criteria? What do you mean?”
First and foremost, HAVE A VISION!
When you get in the car you always have a destination in mind. You need to know where you are going in order to arrive at your destination. It is the same when creating something, having a clear vision of your end result is critical if you are going to arrive at the right place.
Much of designing is problem-solving, so keep a list your criteria (problems you need to solve) at hand while shopping so you don't get distracted or confused while you are at the store.
This is what we call, avoiding the ‘shiny object syndrome.’
Staying focused on the vision is essential. Once in a while, I sensed that my sister was going off the rails, chasing that shiny object. I had to remind her and help her get clear on her true desire for her home. She had to remember where her happy place is and steer away from something super trendy if she is looking for something timeless.
The third lesson is, know yourself.
Before she brought me on, she had found a sofa that fit her body the way she needed it to. I didn’t realize this at first when I suggested looking for an upgrade. It was through my promptings to her to remember her criteria that she decided to go back to the original sofa. And through those same prompting that she chose an upgraded fabric.
In the end, I did little more than go shopping with her, guiding her along the way. Which by the way, I normally do not do with clients. But because I was able to help her come to her own place of making a well thought out, smart decision, she is able to feel happy with her choice without the fear of the dreaded 'buyer's remorse' syndrome. This is because we did our due diligence in exploring all of our options, and then making the right choice for her situation.
And that is what progress looks like.
And that is what makes it a win!